Lugging the base station Pelican case through airport security has for some reason caused me to rethink the overall design of the base station itself. The current version of the base station provides a few capabilities that must be present in the new version: Provide an up link to the aircraft payload via SSH over a PPP tunnel through the XBee radios, Telemetry data, and the capability to connect multiple client machines directly to the aircraft payload. After some whiteboard designing, and a fair amount of forehead smacking, we have settled on a design.
The core of the new base station relies on a Gumstic Overo with a Chestnut43 expansion board for USB and Ethernet. The Gumstic provides DHCP services to the connected client, as well as establishing the PPP tunnel to the aircraft payload through the USB connected XBEE 900mhz radio. Attached to the Ethernet is an Asus WL-330GE Wireless Access Point running in bridged mode to provide clients an easy way of connecting.
The entire thing will fit inside of a 7″x6″x6″ project box along with the ArduStation. Everything runs on 5volts so power is easily available from an AC to DC power brick. With the original base station taking up 1428 cubic inches of space and weighing in at just over 9 pounds, the net result is an 82% reduction in the space requirements and an approximate 90% reduction in weight. It almost fits in my pocket.
Here is a picture of the new base station guts*. The project box is on order and I will post pictures of the completed base station once it arrives.